Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (7:25)
Here is one of the most beautiful verses in Scripture. Like John 3:16, it contains the whole essence of the gospel. Salvation is the main theme of the entire Bible. Salvation is what the text is all about.
Jesus’ priesthood not only is eternal and unalterable, but is also unlimited in its scope. He saves forever (panteles). Although the meaning in the context of 7:25 can be that of eternal, the basic idea of the word is that of completeness or perfection. The King James translation (“to the uttermost”) is therefore accurate and significant. Jesus’ priesthood is no halfway measure, as were the old sacrifices that only symbolized removal of sin. The symbol was important for that covenant. It was God-given and God-required, but still was only a symbol. But Jesus Christ is able to save both eternally and completely.
We can learn some things about God from nature. Paul recognizes that God’s “eternal power and divine nature,” that is, His greatness and His glory, are evident for every person to see (Rom. 1:18–20). We call such evidence natural revelation. But it is limited revelation. The birds can suggest to us God’s beauty, but they do not sing redemption’s song. The ocean and its pounding waves can suggest God’s greatness and His dependability, but they do not proclaim the gospel. The stars declare the glory of God, but not the way to get to Him. Natural revelation, like the Old Testament sacrifices, is God-given. It is the nature He Himself has made that proclaims His greatness and glory. But we can only learn about salvation from special revelation, from His written Word, the Bible. When people say they can find God on the beach or on the golf course or at the lake, it is a very superficial claim. In nature, we cannot possibly see clearly God’s judgment on sin or His goodness or His grace or His redemption or His Son. In nature we cannot see the need for salvation or the way to salvation. These are only seen with spiritual eyes, through the revelation of His Word.
Within the few words of Hebrews 7:25 we can see salvation’s basis, its nature, its power, its objects, and its security.
the basis of salvation
Hence, of course, refers to what has just been said—namely, that Jesus’ priesthood is permanent, eternal. He can save forever because He exists and ministers forever. The basis of salvation is Jesus Christ’s divine eternality.
the power of salvation
The power of salvation is Christ’s ability—He is able. Other priests were never able to save, not even partially or temporarily. The old sacrifices partially and temporarily covered sin, but they did not even partially or temporarily remove sin. They did not to any degree or for any length of time bring deliverance from sin. But Jesus Christ is able, perfectly able.
A friend of mine had a little boy who, at the age of four, was found to have leukemia. One of our own sons was the same age. When I visited the stricken boy in the hospital, I felt particularly heartbroken and helpless. I had the strongest desire to make him well. I would have done anything in my power to bring that little fellow back to perfect health. I was completely willing, but I was not able to. I did not have the power.
Many, perhaps most, of the priests of the Old Covenant were willing to cleanse the people of sin; but they could not, no matter how strongly they desired it. But our great High Priest is not only willing, He is also able—absolutely able. Praise God for Christ, who is able!
Evangelicals are often criticized for claiming that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. The reason we make this claim is that this is what the Bible teaches. Jesus Himself said “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus not only is able to save, but He is the only One able to save. He is the only One who has the power of salvation (Acts 4:12).
the nature of salvation
The nature of salvation is bringing men near to God. By delivering from sin, it qualifies believers to come to God. Deliverance from sin has all three of the major tenses—past, present, and future. In the past tense, we have been freed from sin’s guilt. In the present tense, we are freed from sin’s power. In the future tense, we shall be freed from sin’s presence. So we can say, “I have been saved,” “I am saved” (or “I am being saved”), and “I shall be saved.” All these statements are true; all are scriptural. Together they represent the full, complete nature of our salvation.
the objects of salvation
The objects of Christ’s eternal salvation, of course, are those who come to Him to be saved, those who draw near to God through Him. There are no restrictions but this, no other qualification but faith in God’s Son. “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). There is no other way but Jesus, but this way is open to every person who puts his trust in Him. The other side of this truth is that Jesus can save only those who come to Him in faith. He is able to save all, but not all will be saved, because not all will believe.
We are tempted to think that when we have presented the gospel, presented the truth of salvation, that our obligation is over. But there must be a response to the gospel for it to be able to save. Parents need continually to remember this fact when teaching their children the things of God. We cannot make them believe or make them obey, but our responsibility is not over until we have urged them as strongly as we know how to trust in the Savior of whom they have heard.
the security of salvation
He always lives to make intercession for us. The security of our salvation is Jesus’ perpetual intercession for us. We can no more keep ourselves saved than we can save ourselves in the first place. But just as Jesus has power to save us, He has power to keep us. Constantly, eternally, perpetually Jesus Christ intercedes for us before His Father. Whenever we sin He says to the Father, “Put that on My account. My sacrifice has already paid for it.” Through Jesus Christ, we are able to “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). In His Son we are now blameless in the Father’s sight. When we are glorified we will be blameless in His presence.
25. Wherefore he is able to save, &c. This is the fruit of an eternal priesthood, even our salvation, if indeed we gather this fruit by faith as we ought to do. For where death is or a change, you will there seek salvation in vain; hence they who cleave to the ancient priesthood, can never attain salvation. When he says, them that come unto God, or who approach God, by this phrase he points out the faithful who alone enjoy the salvation procured by Christ; but he yet at the same time indicates what faith ought to regard in a mediator. The chief good of man is to be united to his God, with whom is the fountain of life and of all blessings; but their own unworthiness drives all away from any access to him. Then the peculiar office of a Mediator is to bring us help in this respect, and to stretch out his hand to us that he may lead us to heaven. And he ever alludes to the ancient shadows of the Law; for though the high priest carried the names of the twelve tribes on his shoulders and symbols on his breast, yet he alone entered the sanctuary, while the people stood in the court. But now by relying on Christ the Mediator we enter by faith into heaven, for there is no longer any veil intervening, but God appears to us openly, and lovingly invites us to a familiar access.
Seeing he ever liveth, &c. What sort of pledge and how great is this of love towards us! Christ liveth for us, not for himself! That he was received into a blessed immortality to reign in heaven, this has taken place, as the Apostle declares, for our sake. Then the life, and the kingdom, and the glory of Christ are all destined for our salvation as to their object; nor has Christ any thing which may not be applied to our benefit; for he has been given to us by the Father once for all on this condition, that all his should be ours. He at the same time teaches us by what Christ is doing, that he is performing his office as a priest; for it belongs to a priest to intercede for the people, that they may obtain favour with God. This is what Christ is ever doing, for it was for this purpose that he rose again from the dead. Then of right, for his continual intercession, he claims for himself the office of the priesthood.
25 It is Jesus’ eternity that makes him the perfect Savior. “Completely” translates the phrase eis to panteles, which can be taken either of degree (“wholly, totally”) or of time (“forever”). In this discussion of mortality and immortality, the latter sense would clearly be appropriate, but since a “total” salvation must be one that is “for all time,” the two senses are not in competition. The nature of that salvation is succinctly summed up in the phrase “come to God through him.” The Christian privilege of entering the presence of God, for which Paul uses the evocative term prosagōgē, “access” (Ro 5:2; Eph 2:18; 3:12), is expressed equally powerfully by our author with the simple term “to come to” God, which recurs in 4:16; 10:1, 22; 11:6 and will be vividly illustrated by the imagery of “coming to” the two mountains in 12:18, 22 (cf. “draw near to God,” v. 19). But just as the OT priests acted as intermediaries for the people, so we too need the services of a priest to introduce us to the divine presence; we come to God “through him.”
As the argument develops, it will become clear that the primary sense in which we come to God “through Jesus” is that he has offered on our behalf the perfect sacrifice. But the priests in the OT had also another function, not so often mentioned—the role of intercession for the people before God (perhaps best exemplified by Moses, Ex 32:11–14, 30–32, but also symbolized in the high priest’s “bearing the names of the sons of Israel over his heart … as a continuing memorial before the Lord,” Ex 28:29), and that role too is fulfilled by our high priest. Whereas his sacrifice was offered once for all, his intercession continues, and that is why we need a high priest who “always lives.” While he was on earth, Jesus prayed for his people (Lk 22:32; Jn 17), and Paul speaks in Romans 8 not only of the Spirit pleading on our behalf but also of Jesus interceding for us at God’s right hand (Ro 8:26, 34; cf. also 1 Jn 2:1). The theme may not be frequently mentioned, but it is a vital source of pastoral assurance and one without which the process of our salvation would be incomplete (cf. 9:24).
25 Those who have Christ as their high priest and mediator with God have in him a Savior whose saving power is available without end, not liable to the mischances of mortal life. He lives eternally, eternally engaged to bless and protect those who have committed themselves to him. The way of approach to God through him is a way which is always open, because in the presence of God he represents his people as “a priest for ever.” He is no mediator in the ordinary sense, a go-between who places his good offices at the disposal of two parties in the hope of bringing them to agreement. He is the unique Mediator between God and mankind because he combines Godhead and manhood perfectly in his own person; in him God draws near to men and women and in him men and women may draw near to God, with the assurance of constant and immediate access.
What is our Lord’s special function as his people’s high priest with God, apart from ensuring their never-failing acceptance before God? In 2:17f. we have been told that he became high priest to make atonement for his people’s sins and strengthen them in temptation; in 4:15f. we have been told that he sympathizes with their weakness and supplies the mercy and grace to help them in time of need. Here his high-priestly function is summed up in terms of intercession: “he lives continuously to intercede for them.” The intercessory work of Christ at the right hand of God is not a doctrine peculiar to our author; it appears in one of Paul’s great lyric outbursts:
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?
It is God who justifies; who is to condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died,
yes, who was raised from the dead,
who is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us. (Rom. 8:33f.)
In these words we may trace the echo of an early Christian confession of faith, which, in addition to acknowledging the death, resurrection, and enthronement of Christ, made mention also of his intercessory ministry. We may also trace the echo of the fourth Servant Song, where the Servant of the Lord, once humbled and put to shame but now highly exalted, is said to have made, or to be making, “intercession for the transgressors.” This is one of the statements about the Servant which indicate that his ministry is priestly, as well as prophetic and royal.
But the teaching and action of Jesus on earth must have encouraged his disciples to recognize in him their all-prevailing intercessor. “I have prayed for you,” he said to Simon Peter at the Last Supper, “that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). If it be asked what form his heavenly intercession takes, what better answer can be given than that he still does for his people at the right hand of God what he did for Peter on earth? And the prayer recorded in John 17, also belonging to the same night in which he was betrayed, is well called (after David Chytraeus) his high-priestly prayer, and (such is the affinity of mind between the Fourth Evangelist and our present author) a careful study of John 17 will help us considerably to understand what is intended here when our Lord is described as making intercession for those who come to God through him.
It is important to emphasize this, for the character of our Lord’s intercession has at times been grotesquely misrepresented in popular Christian thought. He is not to be thought of “as an orante, standing ever before the Father with outstretched arms, like the figures in the mosaics of the catacombs, and with strong crying and tears pleading our cause in the presence of a reluctant God; but as a throned Priest-King, asking what he will from a Father who always hears and grants his request. Our Lord’s life in heaven is his prayer.”
But our Lord’s life in heaven is the life of one who has been brought back from the death which he endured when he gave himself as a sacrifice for his people’s sins. In the language of the Apocalypse, it is as the Lamb once slain that he exercises world dominion from the heavenly throne (Rev. 5:6–14). The appearance in God’s presence of the Crucified One constitutes his perpetual and prevalent intercession. His once-completed self-offering is utterly acceptable and efficacious; his contact with the Father is immediate and unbroken; his priestly ministry on his people’s behalf is never ending, and therefore the salvation which he secures to them is absolute.
25 With “therefore” the pastor expounds the implications of Christ’s final and absolute priesthood for his hearers: “he is able to save completely those who come to God through him.” The pastor has chosen the phrase translated “completely” with intention.100 His purpose is to emphasize that the “eternal priest” has an absolute priesthood and thus can save to the fullest, to the most complete extent. The “law perfected nothing” (v. 19), but the one with the “inviolable” priesthood can save, one might say, to the Nth degree. “Completely” is the most common use of this expression in later Greek.102 The pastor would be thoroughly puzzled by those of his interpreters who try to reduce this term to “forever,” or who attempt to separate “forever” from “completely.” Eternal or final salvation and perseverance in faith and obedience through the complete provision of Christ are “one and inseparable.”104 Christ is able to save so “completely” that his people are able to persevere until the end and thus be saved “forever.” The pastor knows of no final or “forever” salvation that is not the result of perseverance through the completed work of Christ. That is why he is so eager and urgent that his hearers persevere in faith and obedience. He earnestly desires them to avail themselves of Christ’s ability to save them “completely.”
This strong desire is the reason why the pastor describes this complete salvation as being for “those who come to God through him.” The term translated “come to” is very close in meaning to the word translated “draw near” at the end of v. 19. Both “come to” and “draw near” are used in the LXX for the approach of both priests and people to God in worship. However, the Greek OT uses the word we have translated “come to” in one way when it refers to priests, in another when to the people of God. The priests “come to” the altar, veil, or Holy Place. The people, however, only “come to,” “before” God or “before” the Lord, for they cannot approach the altar itself. Christ has saved so completely, however, that he has done away with this distinction. The faithful need not come “before” God or his altar but directly to God himself through Christ and the sacrifice he has offered. The pastor implicitly invites his hearers to join those who take advantage of all Christ has done by thus coming to God through him. All that the pastor will say about Christ’s high priesthood from now until 10:18 is aimed at encouraging and enabling them to do so. Thus in 10:22 he makes this invitation explicit: “come with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” However, “those who come to God through him” also contains a germ of warning. If the hearers cease to thus draw near, they will forfeit these benefits (cf. 10:26–31).
The pastor concludes with a final affirmation of Christ’s competence by freshly restating the burden of v. 24: “Because he is always living to make intercession for them.” The participle “living,” like “to remain” above, is often used to describe God (Heb 3:12; 9:14; 10:31; 12:22; cf. 4:12; 10:20). It is intensified by the use of “always,” and harks back to the “indestructible life” of v. 15, the “he lives” of v. 6, and the “having neither beginning of days nor end of life” in v. 3. The pastor concludes his exposition of this psalm by affirming once again that the Son’s effective priesthood is founded on his sharing the eternal life of the “living” God.
The pastor describes Christ’s present, enduring, postsacrificial ministry as intercession for “those who come to God through him.” The priestly categories the pastor has been using make it natural for him to speak of intercession, even if he uses this term in an unusual way. Christ does not perpetually petition God on behalf of his people.112 His sacrifice has been accepted, and he has taken his seat in the place of all authority at the Father’s right hand “once-for-all” (10:11–15). However, when the recipients of Hebrews hear that Christ “intercedes” for them, they will be encouraged by knowing that he represents them before God.114 They will also remember that God is the ultimate source of their “great salvation” (2:3) revealed and made effective in his Son. When they draw near and receive the “mercy and timely help” (4:15) that Christ so freely gives, they will not forget the ultimate giver. Christ’s intercession results in his providing cleansing for sin, access to God, and grace to overcome all temptation and opposition (4:14–16; 10:19–25; cf. 2:18; 5:2, 7). The pastor concludes this section by reminding his hearers that the eternal Son is there for them and that he is always ready to enable their perseverance.
7:25 / Because Jesus’ priestly work is not hindered by death, he is able to save completely (or “for all time,” rsv; cf. nasb) those who come to God through him. In view here is the quality of the salvation. By its very nature, what Jesus offers is an “eternal salvation” (cf. 5:9; 9:12; 10:14; 13:20) and a perfect or “complete” salvation, unlike the temporary and the incomplete work of the levitical priests. Because is added by niv, being inferred from the participial clause translated he always lives. The priestly work of Christ depends directly on “the power of an indestructible life” (7:16), and it is that same kind of permanence that determines the character of the salvation experienced by its recipients. They are sustained by the continual intercession of Jesus on their behalf. On this point the author is in agreement with Paul (Rom. 8:34; cf. 1 John 2:1).
25. Wherefore—Greek, “Whence”; inasmuch as “He remaineth for ever.”
also—as a natural consequence flowing from the last, at the same time a new and higher thing [Alford].
save—His very name Jesus (Heb 7:22) meaning Saviour.
to the uttermost—altogether, perfectly, so that nothing should be wanting afterwards for ever [Tittmann]. It means “in any wise,” “utterly,” in Lu 13:11.
come unto God—by faith.
by him—through Him as their mediating Priest, instead of through the Levitical priests.
seeing he ever liveth—resuming “He continueth ever,” Heb 7:24; therefore “He is able to the uttermost”; He is not, like the Levitical priest, prevented by death, for “He ever liveth” (Heb 7:23).
to make intercession—There was but the one offering on earth once for all. But the intercession for us in the heavens (Heb 7:26) is ever continuing, whence the result follows, that we can never be separated from the love of God in Christ. He intercedes only for those who come unto God through Him, not for the unbelieving world (Jn 17:9). As samples of His intercession, compare the prophetical descriptions in the Old Testament. “By an humble omnipotency (for it was by His humiliation that He obtained all power), or omnipotent humility, appearing in the presence, and presenting His postulations at the throne of God” [Bishop Pearson]. He was not only the offering, but the priest who offered it. Therefore, He has become not only a sacrifice, but an intercessor; His intercession being founded on His voluntary offering of Himself without spot to God. We are not only then in virtue of His sacrifice forgiven, but in virtue of the intercession admitted to favor and grace [Archbishop Magee].
Ver. 25.—Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. We again observe how, at the end of successive stages of the argument, thoughts to be enlarged on afterwards are brought in. Here it is the perpetual intercession of Christ before the heavenly mercy-seat. In the view of his office thus arrived at there is, in fact, a transition to the main subject set forth in the three chapters that follow; viz. the fulfillment in Christ of the ceremonial of the Law, and especially of the high priest’s intercession on the Day of Atonement. And thus from Melchizedek the train of thought passes to the high priest. The type of the former has been sufficiently shown to be fulfilled in the higher order of Christ’s priesthood; it is now to be shown how, being of such higher order, it is the antitype of the Aaronic priesthood too, accomplishing what it signified. Hence in ver. 26 the word “high priest” (ἀρχιερεὺς) is for the first time introduced, as the key-note of what is coming.
Summary of the foregoing argument.
- (ch. 7:1–11.) What does the Melchizedek priesthood of Ps. 110. signify?
- (vers. 1–4.) One not depending on human ancestry, and one for ever abiding.
- (vers. 4–11.) One of a higher order than that of Aaron; for:
(1) Melchizedek, being of a race apart, received tithe from Abraham the patriarch.
(2) This denotes a higher position than that of the Aaronic priests, who tithed their brethren of the same race with themselves, in virtue only of a special ordinance.
(3) The blessing of Abraham by Melchizedek is similarly significant.
(4) The idea of an ever-living priest with a right to tithe transcends that of the temporary claims of a succession of dying men.
(5) Levi himself virtually paid tithe to Melchizedek.
- (vers. 11–18.) The Aaronic priesthood, and with it the whole dispensation based upon it, is thus shown to have been imperfect and transitory; for:
- Otherwise a priesthood of another order would not have been spoken of in Ps. 110.
- Which priesthood is evidently distinct from the Aaronic, our Lord being of the tribe, not of Levi, but of Judah.
- What has been seen (vers. 5 and 8) as to the Melehizedek priesthood being not “after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life,” makes this “more abundantly evident.”
Conclusion (vers. 18–20). The Aaronic priesthood (being in itself unprofitable) is therefore now superseded by an availing one, “through which we draw nigh unto God.”
III. (vers. 20–26) Christ’s priesthood is thus availing; for:
- The Divine oath (Ps. 110.) established it, marking it as resting on the eternal Divine counsels.
- It is (as shown by the same psalm) “unchangeable.” The one Priest abides for ever.
Conclusion (ver. 25). We have, therefore, in him at last, a perfectly availing and eternal interceding High Priest.
His limitless power (7:25a)
It is also possible to translate these words for all time (eis to panteles) as ‘completely’ (niv), ‘fully’, or ‘absolutely’ (neb). The phrase is doubtless a further reference to the far-reaching effects and unlimited adequacy of Christ’s saving work. His power knows no limits and his life knows no end. He is able to save his people fully and completely. Nothing is necessary to supplement their salvation. They are not saved by a little believing plus a little doing. He achieves it absolutely by his victorious work and, moreover, he can save them now. The tense of the verb is of the greatest importance here. It is present tense (sōzein), reminding us, as Westcott says, that ‘support comes at each moment of trial’.
His present ministry (7:25b)
Although this letter has so much to say about Christ’s redemptive work on the cross in the past, ‘once and for all’, it also emphasizes his present work for his people. His saving mission complete, he now supports and sustains us through his intercessory ministry. Day by day and hour by hour Christ prays for us. We ought to pay special attention to this aspect of Christ’s present work, especially in the light of this letter’s Jewish background.
The rabbis maintained that intercession on behalf of people was a ministry entrusted to the angels and especially to Michael the archangel. Here, yet again, Christ is portrayed as one who as priest exercises an intercessory role far superior to the angels in the Jewish tradition. He intercedes for us meaningfully for, unlike the angels, he has first-hand experience of our trials. He intercedes for us compassionately, for, unlike the angels, he knows exactly what we need. He intercedes for us effectively, for, unlike the angels, he has the power to meet our need.
During his earthly ministry Jesus prayed for his friends. The early Christian people rejoiced at the thought that his effective intercessory ministry was not confined to his life on earth; it is continued in heaven.7
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 199–201). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (pp. 174–175). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 100). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Bruce, F. F. (1990). The Epistle to the Hebrews (Rev. ed., pp. 173–175). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Cockerill, G. L. (2012). The Epistle to the Hebrews (pp. 334–337). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 110). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 458). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Hebrews (p. 187). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Brown, R. (1988). The message of Hebrews: Christ above all (pp. 135–136). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.